We hoped that this summer would bear some semblance of the summer of 2019, but--alas--science had to flex HARD on us naive humans.
I don’t want to go down that black hole of despair, so I’ll promise to keep this upbeat. :)
Even though we had to still be cautious with unvaccinated children, we were determined to make some happy family memories. So we stayed in a cottage on a farm in Carmel Valley for a few days. It was so remote that we had to drive hours up a windy road--a road not even wide enough for two cars--on the side of a mountain. Totally relaxing, right? Nevertheless, we pushed our loaded car slowly up that mountain for the sake of adventure.
With so much going on in the world that makes us feel powerless, like we have no control, I’ve realized that it’s even more important to fight for moments of peace amidst chaos. But in order to reclaim our sense of agency, we had to distance ourselves from the source of that powerlessness: the news, the screens, the doomscrolling. Moreover, we have to open up to new experiences. My husband and I are both adventurous and, lucky for us, our kids were game to join us for the ride.
The kids tried their first afternoon tea, and they loved feeling sophisticated and grown up (that only lasted for about five minutes until the situation devolved into a nuggie fight). We tried hiking new trails after waking up at 4am to the roosters’ proud crows. We tried riding bikes along Monterey Bay and eating new foods. We tried all we could to fill our cups and heal our hearts--just a little.
It’s not like one short getaway will automatically change lives, but venturing outside our comfort zone was a nice change and built up some of that inner muscle that seemed to atrophy in all of us. When my kids tried something new (even if it was a flop), the mere fact that they did it boosted their confidence. More importantly, I realized that we don’t need getaways to achieve this; we’re surrounded by opportunities for new experiences. We can try a new bike or walking path around our neighborhood or strike up a conversation with a new neighbor. We can try reading a new genre of books or cook a new recipe. Here’s one I made recently: vegan spring rolls with peanut sauce.
As comforting as predictability can be for us, it’s also great to move away from the routine--at least for a little bit--to help us remember how courageous and capable we really are.
Inspirational Quote and Writing Update: Isak Dinesen once said, “All sorrows can be borne if you can put them into a story.” I heard this quote on a podcast (Throughline on NPR), and I felt it deeply.
As far as telling “a story” about our sorrows in order to bear them, I am working on a middle grade story about a girl’s quest to reconnect with her broken family. I was scared at first about the idea of channeling the confusion, anger, and loss I’ve experienced in my own family. This story, however, offers the characters a sense of hope amid loss and a chance for redemption. Although there was no redemption in my “real” life, I feel that this story will help me with some much-needed healing.
This story also incorporates one of my favorite hobbies. Here's a clue:
Also, I am glad to have sweet Finn in my writing critique group. He'll surely help me get through this.
Current Read: Ghost World by Daniel Clowes
I recently read Ghost World, and let me tell you: this book doesn’t hold back! I’ll admit that the story felt a bit dreary at first. However, the thinly-veiled vulnerability of the two friends (Enid and Rebecca) pulled me in the more I read. I also appreciated the Daria vibes I got from Enid as well as the brutal honesty that Clowes’ flawed and complex characters brought to the page. It also felt reminiscent of the way my friends and I would interact. If you are looking for a real and bittersweet coming of age story between two close friends, you’ll enjoy this!
Garden Update: Each year, the Orange County Fair hosts competitions, where participants can enter vegetables, breads, wines, animals, cookies, photography, honey, and even table settings for judges to rank. Following the desire to try new experiences, we entered the honey we harvested from our beehive for the first time ever. There were over 25 beekeepers in the contest for our category (Amber Honey). To our surprise, our honey won SECOND place!!
So what are some new endeavors--big or small-that you’ve tried lately?
Stay tuned for next month's updates. In the meantime, feel free to reach out, share this with friends, and let me know about your latest adventures. :)
Alarmed by the rapid decline of bees, we decided to establish our own backyard hive. Beekeepers have the option of purchasing and importing bees from outside the region; however, we wanted to promote the local bee population because they were known to be more hardy and resistant to disease.
This was a bit of learning curve. But after doing some reading, watching YouTube videos, and consulting with fellow local beekeepers, we felt ready to try it.
First, we used a nuc box (pronounced like "nuke," as in nucleus), which we placed on top of a roof to attract the bees. We put lemongrass drops on a q-tip, rubbed the q-tip around the entrance of the nuc box, and then placed the q-tip in the middle of the box. Essentially, the oil mimics a pheromone that encourages bees to swarm into a location as their new home. This process took about three weeks.
Once the bees took residence in the nuc box for a few weeks, drawing comb and filling it with honey, we transferred the frames from the nuc box into their "official" hive (pictured below).
This is where Claire's journey began. We let Claire and her sisters build up the hive for over a year--adding another "box" in the process--before attempting our first honey harvest. That first year, we harvested 12 pounds of honey in exchange for only one bee sting. But most importantly, we learned that these animals are the bees knees.
We learned a LOT during that first year, and as Claire's hive continued to grow and need more boxes, we found ways to make sure they were healthy and protected from pests.
That's all for now, but stay tuned for more updates on Claire's hive!
Some updates, musings, and sharing of inspirations.